Type in James Donaldson into any search engine, and you’ll probably come across a young basketball player for the Seattle Supersonics with an Afro about as big as the ball he’s holding. Now, with a little less hair, and a lot more experience, Donaldson is challenging incumbent mayor Greg Nickels for the chance to run Seattle. On Monday of this week, Donaldson visited the Central District to meet business owners and discuss their concerns.
As a former owner of a health and physical therapy business at 22nd & Jackson, Donaldson said he is very familiar with the area and the struggles of small businesses in the city. His main suggestions for easing their burdens are to reduce business taxes and help speed up the permitting process. “I don’t think there needs to be a penalty for business to grow. We need to have incentives for business to grow,” he said, referring to head and square footage taxes the city levies on businesses. Donaldson wants to get rid of the taxes to ease the stress on small businesses that he says are most effected by them.
Mary Wesely, owner of Flowers Just 4U since 1984 and a supporter of Donaldson, is looking to him to tighten up the streets around the Central District. One of her major concerns are the large groups of young people that hang out on the streets near her business. She’d like to see a stronger police presence, including police patrolling on foot, and for the city to provide more options to keep kids involved in positive activities. “You’ve got to let the kids know that there’s other places they can go, other than hanging out on a street corner. It looks bad, it gives them a label, and they may be good innocent kids, but we don’t know.”
Donaldson addressed these concerns when asked about crime in the Central District and elsewhere around the city, calling for a larger police force and change in focus to have more walking, biking, and horseback-riding officers in neighborhoods. “We need to make sure that we get more police officers involved in our community than has been done in the last several years,” he said. Donaldson would fund additional police resources by seeking other efficiencies and looking for ways to reduce the more expensive levels of management in the city bureaucracy. “There are over 13,000 city employees now. Around 800 of them make over one hundred thousand dollars per year. How much duplication and replication and triplication is going on?”
On the topic of development, Donaldson stressed the need to insure that the city can continue to grow and accommodate new residents. “We can’t keep on getting by with the way things have been,” Donaldson said. “We want to keep neighborhood charm and historical aspects, but we need to build for our growth.”
Editor’s note: This story was written by our awesome Neighborlogs news intern Lucas Anderson, based on audio recordings of an interview conducted by Scott
Note to other candidates: let us know when you’ll be in the neighborhood and we’ll be there to cover it
but I continue to ponder how we can fund the desperately needed pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements city-wide if we get rid of two of the only dedicated funding sources we have for those same projects.
Those following the City’s Pedestrian Master Plan know that the “head tax” is a primary funding source for Bridging the Gap, the levy which is the *only* identified source for the myriad projects contained in the document.
I am hopeful Mr. Donaldson can come up with a revenue resource to help address these issues. I certainly appreciate his focus on small business!
“Donaldson addressed these concerns when asked about crime in the Central District and elsewhere around the city, calling for a larger police force and change in focus to have more walking, biking, and horseback-riding officers in neighborhoods. “We need to make sure that we get more police officers involved in our community than has been done in the last several years,” “
Hear. Hear. Sure, there are cop cars sitting at Union and 23rd, but do they ever get out of their cars? No. Come on guys, walk around a bit. We won’t bite.
“desperately needed pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure “
As opposed to educating our kids. Jeez, unscrew your priorities.
“We won’t bite.”
No, the locals will just sue.
and the two are mutually exclusive?
Of course we need to be doing a better job with Seattle Public Schools. But the Mayor’s office has a lot less to do with how well the schools run, or how well our kids are educated, than it does with transportation.
I agree that our police officers should be more involved with the community, but I think that the pushback from neighborhoods that keep clamoring for more cops is part of the problem. Cops don’t make a community safe. Good relationships between neighbors make communities safe. Treat a kid like an idiot, they likely to do badly in school. Treat a kid like a criminal, surrounding them with cops all the time, they might think that being a criminal is all they are. Let’s take all those resources that we currently put in to our criminal justice system and use them to start growing some programs that help build bonds between neighbors and create a sense of security and safety that can be sustained over the long term.
” surrounding them with cops all the time, they might think that being a criminal is all they are”
Uh huh, let’s blame the crime problem on the cops. Take away the cops and these kids will be angels, I’m sure. Brilliant solution. No mention of parenting in your entire post. And since when do we need you need a government program to tell you not to **** with your neighbors and trash your community? Isn’t that a parental lesson?
Isn’t the Bridging the Gap Money now mostly going to ‘Fix the Mercer Mess’ because, in the words of one Council Member, ‘That is why people voted for it. It promised to include fixing the Mercer Mess.’
Good point. Neighborliness begins in the home, and it’s every parent’s job to help their children understand how to be good citizens. However, some parents have more time and resources than other parents, and they need a little help from the community to raise their kids right. There is no substitution for good parenting, but after school programs in sports, art, music, dance, urban agriculture or whatever, along with mentorship and tutoring for teenagers and young adults and other such programs and services could go a long way towards helping to easing some of the pressures of parenting today. Those are the type of things we should be asking for from our government when we feel unsafe in our neighborhood, not more cops.
All of those programs are currently available all over the CD and south side. Something tells me the gang bangers aren’t too interested in spending their summers gardening.
Actually the Spring Street P-Patch has a plot that’s minded by a bunch of kids from CAMP; I don’t know if any of them are (or were) gang members, but I’m pleased to see them out there gardening.
The kinds of programs mentioned also help a great deal in the pre-teen years; a lot of times if you’ve already lost a kid to the gangs in their high school years, it’s that much harder to get them back.
But yes, it takes both good parenting and some helpful community support.
The priority here is not cops and sidewalks and bike paths. The priority is to replace Greg Nickols who has overseen the demise of the city. The city bureacrats are out of control, consider last years snowstorms and the ludicrous statement about the environment being a reason not to sand or salt the roads. How much BS do we have to swallow before we say enough is enough and boot that piker out. The citizens of Seattle said they didn’t want a tunnel to replace the viaduct, guess what, they didn’t listen and they are now building a tunnel. If you like deaf ears, vote the status quo, if not, find a new leader. James Donaldson is one of the new non political leaders we desprately need. Not the same old lies.
Bigger than Obama and easier to get out to community events – yeah, we need James Donaldson. Where do I get a sign and bumper sticker?
Unfortunately, James Donaldson is not going to be the one to cancel the tunnel. Like Mallahan and Drago, Donaldson is on record as supporting the tunnel. The only candidate not supporting the tunnel is Mike McGinn. If that’s your main issue, Mike is the one to vote for, not Donaldson. And he’s also from outside the political establishment and not exclusively aligned with downtown business interests, which is more than can be said for the incumbent and most of the other candidates.